On 15.09.22 08:56, Andreas Broeckmann wrote:
Folks, for those interested in a look at the discussions around
documenta fifteen from outside the lumbung (dare I say, bubble), one
way to start is this interview (in German) with the chairwoman of the
scientific committee which is the latest focus of attention:
It seems like this bridge has already been burned, from both sides.
The curators certainly made mistakes by not understanding the particular
German context and the way the anti-semitism charge has been weaponized
by the right (Netanyahu's toxic legacy). Still, I understand that they
have little interest in having to submit everything to a German board
I'm in Kassel at the moment and I happened to see the films that kicked
off this latest round of recriminations. I didn't think they needed
"contextualization" because the context has been made really clear. They
are historical documents from the international solidarity movement,
particularly from a solidarity group in Tokyo. They do not represent an
impartial historical analysis, but (mostly) voices of people in pain.
If you read German and want to get an impression of how the
weaponization of anti-semitism works, just see how the HWK's very
considered, very sophisticated conference "hijacking memory" (June 2022)
was attacked. This is not about finding common ground, or better
arguments. This is about silencing your opponent no matter how.
While this has dominated the media sphere, on the ground, the exhibition
is very impressive and truly a break from the template of the "global
Problems that have kept the art system and theory busy for decades --
the relationship between art and life, or between engaged content and
alienated form -- have turned out to be largely irrelevant. And a very
different notion of art emerges, doing art, with a small 'a', as a
necessity for collective survival, for inventing and constructing a
different world, as a way of seeing a world after its breakdown, a way
of relating to the history, present, and the future.
What also struck me is that many of the works, and the overall concept,
are very sophisticated, but not in a theoretical way. As far as theory
is concerned, I reached the lumbung overdose quite quickly, but then
again, this concept is so vague, general, and ubiquitous that it manages
to integrate very disparate practices into a common framework centered
around open-ended processes and the values of collaboration.
So there is a strong common thread -- a hands-on way of thinking, a
rough workshop aesthetic -- that runs through the entire show, and, for
me, it works quite well. The wealth of detail and contexts, of histories
that are not familiar to a western art audience (or, at least not to
me), is totally overwhelming, but that is the world outside the
globalized duty-free zones.
I couldn't relate to everything and the lack of engagement with
technology and industry felt a bit retro, but the focus was clearly the
artistic production of local solidarity movements and minority groups.
Still, a lot of works that are really moving. I cannot speak much to
discussions, workshops, and other more engaging formats, as it seems the
energy of the show has dissipated. 100 days are long.
Overall, documenta15 is a wholesale repudiation of the modernist notion
of what art is and what exhibitions can, and should, do.
That this is fraught with internal contradictions (less than I expected,
though) and creates a backlash is not surprising. That the backlash
comes in form of the charge of antisemitism, is truly sad and tells a
lot about contemporary Germany (good and bad things).
all the best. Felix
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